Last reviewed 7 June 2021
A leading hauliers group has warned the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) that it must maintain its rapid programme of vocational driver tests, if it is to overcome the backlog of outstanding tests.
Otherwise, Logistics UK argues, the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain could be derailed by a shortage of drivers.
More than 30,000 LGV driving tests did not take place between March and December 2020, with even more cancelled during the lockdown at the start of 2021, meaning that potential employees have been denied entry to the profession at a time when logistics businesses need them urgently.
Speaking after a meeting with new DVSA Chief Executive Loveday Ryder, Logistics UK’s Chief Executive David Wells said that he was encouraged by progress made so far by the Agency, but warned that there is still much work to be done:
While DVSA is now delivering vocational tests at around double its pre-pandemic weekly volume, ,Mr Wells queried whether this is sustainable under the organisation’s current arrangements.
“It is vital that DVSA maintains the testing rates which have been achieved in the past couple of weeks, but this is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “The volumes of outstanding tests are preventing at the very least 15,000 applicants with successful passes from joining the sector at a time when our supply chain desperately needs their skills.”
Logistics UK has raised concerns about the sustainability of testing volumes without applying more innovative solutions, such as expanding existing delegated testing.
It has warned that breaks in the supply chain may become more likely as the industry struggles to recruit new drivers while also needing replacements for EU workers who have returned home after Brexit.
Mr Wells said that operators need more support, such as interest free loans or grants, to help cover the costs of driver training, which can run to thousands of pounds.